Our Challenges

Developing reliable water sources

Improving job opportunities

Maintaining excellence in Education and Health Services

Expanding alternative energy resources

Staffing computer laboratory

Creating high school library


Donate Online

Make your donation online using the Donate button.


The Dominican Sisters of Adrian, Michigan will route your contribution to Centro Espíritu Santo.

When you donate online, please specify in the “other” category that your gift is for El Cruce.

Donate by Mail

Send your contribution by mail to

Amy Palmer
Director of Development
1257 East Siena Heights Drive
Adrian, Michigan 49221
Phone: 517-266-3480

Make checks payable to
Adrian Dominican Sisters.
Please indicate on the check or money order that your donation is for
"El Cruce."

Our Volunteers Say ...

As a person running an international health non-profit I found working with Centro Espíritu Santo to be one of my most rewarding experiences. The community is involved at all levels and always looking for ways to improve their situation. I learned my most important lesson working in this community--give them the tools to fish and they'll eat for a lifetime. I hope that we have the opportunity to work with them for years to come.
--Sarah Henry, MPH,


It was a joy to work with the students at the Centro Espíritu Santo schools. They were eager to learn and very generous in teaching us about their culture and everyday life.
- Ashley Morrison (DR '08)




About the Next Chapter

Challenges and opportunities abound...

The community at Centro Espíritu Santo in Sección San José has come very far, yet profound challenges face us. The next chapters in the story of this community will require continuing creativity,collaboration, generosity, and ingenuity.


Washing clothes in the irrigation ditch.

Sección San José does not receive an adequate supply of water. The community is connected to a well located in the valley of the Ocoa River which is 7 kilometers distance. The system was designed more than 25 years ago when the communities were small. (In 1992, Sección San José consisted of only 220 families compared with the 900 families of today.) Another fact is that the Ocoa River is almost dry. Thirty years ago it was a mighty river.

As in many rural areas, the water is scheduled to be pumped into sectors once or twice a week. The families should store the water to be used between service days. In reality, this does not happen. Sección San José has experienced as many as 56 days without any water coming into the community. Sometimes it is because the water pump is broken, because the electricity has not been functioning, sometimes because the water is diverted to other places, sometimes because of drought, and sometimes because of the greed of more affluent communities. Also, the water pipes have been compromised and the water is not potable.

The community sees that the solution is to perforate some wells with the necessary system of water distribution for the sole use of Sección San José. This entails having personnel to monitor the entire project with its necessary engineering, planning, maintenance and bookkeeping.

Drawing from our own well has been a dream of the community for the last twenty years. The residents have raised money on two occasions to perforate wells, but each time that the well was drilled something occurred to make it unusable.

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Lack of Job Opportunities

Sección San José experienced a very rapid rate of growth because of the abundance of work opportunities in the years 1990-2000. There was in 1992 a large Free Zone. Seven buses lined up each morning to bring factory workers to work. Today, in 2010, there are no buses. The great majority of the factories have moved out to eastern countries. The reason most often given is the high cost of unreliable electricity in the Dominican Republic.Today Centro Espíritu Santo is the largest source of employment with 73 persons receiving a salary through the center.

In the 1990s there was a great deal of farming, mostly by individual farmers who hired day laborers when needed. Most of these farms are inoperative now due to lack of water and a market that does not pay enough to cover the cost of raising the crops. It is cheaper to import onions from the US than to grow them locally.

The nearby salt mines and refinery were another source of work. Today they are operating at a minimal level.

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Maintain Excellence in Education and Health Services

Espíritu Santo is a public school. The Dominican government pays the salaries of most of the teachers. It also provides the textbooks.

The challenge for us is to offer excellent education. We need salaries for support personnel such as aides for the four- and five-year-old program, assistants in the library and computer lab, a psychologist, a school nurse, a nutritionist. The state will only pay a salary for every class of 35 students. Enrichment programs in music, art, and sport are not funded by the state. These things in the United States would not be considered extras, but necessities for the providing a good education.

Visiting dentists provide exams
and tooth extractions.

Our health programs are not supported by the public health system. This is because Sección San José is not considered by the public health department to be an individual entity, but an extension of a neighboring community. A few public health services are located in the neighboring community. These services are too far away and not nearly adequate to serve the larger population in the poorer community.

The challenge in health outreach is to maintain adequate services with excellent care. With donations and money from foundations the center has been able to maintain a well-baby clinic, a general medical consultation, a community-outreach nurse, a pharmacy and a medical laboratory. These services are always in a precarious state due to limited funding and the high cost in time that it takes to seek funding.

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Alternative Energy

These solar panels extend the availability of electricity for the school.

The electrical energy in the area of Sección San José is extremely unreliable. The power from the grid is available for only four to eight hours a day. The center is forced to store energy in batteries and use invertors to utilize it when necessary. In order to operate the computer lab which has 32 computers, we have installed solar panels to augment the battery storage. The maintenance of these components is costly and the members of the community have virtually no experience or interest in alternative energy. Our challenge is to maintain adequate equipment, educate the community in the value of alternative energy, and train persons to maintain the equipment. And because we have recently opened a high schoo, we need to duplicate our entire energy system on the new campus.

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Computer Laboratory

This is our computer lab,
powered by the sun.

The challenge in the area of computer education is the cost of salaries, equipment, programs and maintenance of equipment.

Although the public education system demands computer education, it does not provide teachers. This is not because it is unwilling to do so, but because in rural areas, such as Sección San José, one usually does not find computer-literate persons with the university degrees required for public salaries. The school is, therefore, forced to pay persons who can do the job, but do not have degrees.

The public school is not allowed to charge fees, but needs funding to maintain the laboratory. The only way to cover costs is to fundraise--one more challenge in addition to those to be met in education and health outreach.

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High School Library

Our challenge is to bring the high school library from a dream to a reality. We need the books, the librarian, the technology and the building. We are still building basic classrooms while envisioning the future library which will offer on-line service as well as books. At this writing there are about 300 titles housed in a cabinet in a classroom.

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